Archive for May 6th, 2011


When I stepped out the front door one day last week, a flash of bright white on a log stump at the edge of the garden caught my eye. I used the log last summer to sit a potted plant on, and the stump has been waiting out the winter there. On closer examination, I found several white masses, a type of fungus, growing on the log. The growth was damp and when I gently poked it with a finger, I found it to have a soft, spongy texture.


I thought the fungus was probably a slime mold, but nothing in my field guide, Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada, by George Barron, seemed to resemble it exactly. The most likely candidate is Fuligo septica, of which Barron says this:

Fruitbody (aethalium) is a cake-like mass, up to 20 cm in the longest dimension by 3 cm thick, white, yellowish, ochre or red-brown, and with a smooth but brittle crust which breaks away to reveal a black spore-mass. Widespread and common, F. septica can migrate 1 m or more to fruit on stumps, logs, or living plants, often in the rich soil of well-manured gardens.


Although initially spongy, the mass did develop a shiny, brittle crust within a day or so, and over the next few days, the crust deteriorated and cracked to display a solid dark-coloured mass below. When I lifted the edge of the mass from the log, it disintegrated.

Although the photograph in Mushrooms of Ontario wasn’t convincing, the description does seem to match this fungus, as does it’s location on a log in a garden. Such discoveries always remind me of how much goes on right beneath our noses, mostly unnoticed. How complex the natural world is. How ignorant we are. I’m glad I discovered F. septica.


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